Learning outside of the classroom has always been something I really enjoy and value. Right now I’m in a block called Biodiversity of British Columbia. This is a foundation class focused on the biodiversity found in the beautiful environment we live in. It’s a block that everyone at Quest needs to complete at one time or another and gets students out into the field. For students that grew up with a similar backyard and those that come from far, this class teaches everyone how complex the environment is that we all live in.
Every Biodiversity of British Columbia class goes on field trips, no matter the time of year. During this block we are going on a total of eight field trips during the course of one month. The first trip we went out to the local Estuary in Squamish. There our main focus was birds! We listened, searched, and found many different species. I grew up in a very similar region to Squamish and looking at birds that I see at home on a regular basis in more detail was very interesting. We had different tools to help us examine and determine what we were looking at. Everyone in class had a different knowledge to add, some knew names of species already, while others had an eye for seeing perched birds farther away.
The next trip we went on was to the Vancouver Aquarium.
Having a worksheet to complete and guide us in our time at the Aquarium along with all the incredible creatures to see made the 4 hours we had go by very quickly. I made sure to go to a 4D short film that was showing. The particular one that I went to was about the life cycle of a salmon. What a strange experience it was…water spraying, things poking me from my chair, seats shaking…and awesome 3D glasses!
Going to the aquarium let us all examine species that we would not have access to observing in their natural environment or here in Squamish.
The third field trip we went on was to the Mamquam Riparian Forest. There we were gathering data in groups to help determine the biodiversity of the area. Along with other field trip locations, these different sites will all help in bringing data together for a finalized paper and understanding of the Biodiversity in these regions.
Here are some pictures of my class examining species at the Mamquam Riparian Forest.
The fourth field trip we went on was to a Mamquam Spawning Channel. Again here we were looking for species in a specific region and collecting data as smaller groups. Everyone in class had boots, and some had waters on as the day was going to be spent in the river. Using a new technique to most, we collected invertebrates with a few different types of nets, and then sorted through them to have a finalized count. Not knowing what we were going to pull up in the net, and splashing around in the water while doing work of course was a blast. The sun was shining so bright during the trip that the extremely cold water did not get to us too much.
The fifth field trip we went on was just south on the highway a bit, to Porteau Cove. This trip was very unique to the others; we left for the trip at 11:30pm and returned at 2am. We had a night trip at the beach because the tide is the lowest during that time. The bus pulled into the parking lot, everyone jumped out and instantly turned on their head lamps. Off we were in our groups, to go examine species found on the beach. The darkness played a strong role in our data collection, yet with guidance and problem solving as a group we were able to come up with some pretty accurate data to later examine.
As a class we recorded a mass amount of muscles and barnacles. We found many other species as well, such as crabs, sand worms, and algae. Here are some photos taken from the night.
All the data that we collected at the last 3 trips is to help us write a extensive scientific research paper. Using the data that we collected as a class at all three locations, we are able to now create graphs and a paper that can help explain the biodiversity of the region. As a class we have been very fortunate to have such great weather for these trips. This week we have a few more and it looks as if the rain may catch us; rain gear will be a must! I feel very fortunate to be going to a school that values experiential learning. I’m excited to see what the rest of this course holds, and what our data will reveal about the different ecosystems in Squamish.